Between main roster acquisitions and the WWE Performance Centre, WWE is constantly introducing new wrestlers at live events and on television with one goal in mind – to find the next breakout star who can help bring more eyes and money to the WWE product. The fact that John Cena has been the one focal point of WWE for over a decade and that Roman Reigns looks to receive the torch from him is not the overall goal of the company. They are surely always hoping for many stars to become “superstars” in the eyes of the fans so they can rely on many wrestlers to carry the company, not just a select few.
While the WWE has done an excellent job in building up stars over their time, with AJ Styles, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn coming across as true superstars during their time with WWE, there does come a time when WWE realizes that not all projects are going to pan out, and they end up giving up on a wrestler. Thankfully, there are also times where wrestlers can overcome their star burning out, and give us some hope that they will recover and begin to show promise again. The question is – which do your favorite wrestlers fall under?
Here are 8 Wrestlers Vince Has Clearly Given Up On (And 7 Who Still Have Hope):
15 Given Up: Bayley
It’s sad but true, but it looks like the perennial hugger has fallen down the totem pole of importance in the eyes of Vinnie Mac. Since joining the main roster, Bayley has not been able to regain her momentum she had in NXT. Some say that it is because her doe-eyed gimmick only translated well to small crowds, while others say that WWE’s booking of her during her championship program with Charlotte was not true to her character. Whatever the case may be, it's clear the Bayley we have seen for the past couple months jobbing to other women on the roster and expressing frustration on Steve Austin’s podcast is not who we're used to seeing.
There were high hopes for Bayley’s eventual main roster run due to the reactions she garnered in NXT, but it appears that since she has not received them lately, WWE Management has soured on her. I personally hope that things turn around as her stories in NXT were some of the brightest spots in professional wrestling in a long time.
14 Hopeful: Dolph Ziggler
What is that? Dolph Ziggler on the “still has a chance” side of things on a list like this? That must be a typo! Well my friends, the day has finally come where things are finally looking up for “The Showoff” as he has a storyline that should pan out very well for him and give him a feature spot on this year’s WrestleMania show. After years of being undervalued as a performer, Ziggler was given a ball to run with in 2017 and while some feel that the execution of the program was not the highest, there's no denying that he has some spotlight on him compared to previous years. Rumors have circulated that Ziggler will be featured on this year’s WrestleMania in a ladder match reminiscent of WrestleMania X’s classic battle between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon, in an attempt to crown a “real United States Champion”. If there was no management backing behind Ziggler, he would not be given this spotlight.
13 Given Up: The Revival
Sometimes timing is not on a wrestler's side, which was the unfortunate case of the ill-timed injuries of The Revival. Coming off a large amount of buzz from their NXT run, Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder of The Revival joined the main roster after WrestleMania 33, however a jaw injury to Wilder and a torn bicep to Dawson has put them on the sidelines for the majority of their run, which has all but stopped their momentum. With career-making performances against other teams in NXT, including a performance against #DIY which was named “Match of the Year”, the potential for The Revival was very high, but ended up being disappointing as a result of the injuries. Without being able to keep up that buzz on screen, the pair has likely fallen out of management’s favor and will need to work hard to gain it back, or they will be eclipsed by other tag team acts.
In addition to this, the recent report of Vince McMahon being upset with their use of the term “professional wrestlers” on a recent episode of RAW does not work in the team’s favor either.
12 Hopeful: Big Cass
While unfortunate injuries may have not benefited The Revival, it would have helped if they were just a little bit taller, then WWE Management would not have forgotten about them. Unfortunately for them, you can’t teach how to be seven feet tall – but thankfully for Big Cass, he already is a giant who has not been forgotten about during his injury. Before becoming sidelined with a knee injury during a 2017 episode of RAW, management was reportedly very high on Big Cass as a breakout singles star following his separation from Enzo Amore, which means that plans are likely still on the books for him upon his return.
With reports of him separating from Carmella appearing in the news recently, I'm sure that Cass has developed a fair amount of aggression during his recuperation and will surely return with a vengeance, and regain his spot as a bright star in Management’s eyes.
11 Given Up: Curt Hawkins
Seriously, the guy has a 150+ match losing streak on television right now – do you really think that WWE has big plans for him? While Hawkins has made the gimmick of a perennial loser more entertaining than thought possible, I'm sure that it's not what he had in mind when he re-signed with WWE in 2016. Hawkins left a budding independent wrestling career to rejoin WWE, which saw him give up bookings for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Impact and other high profile promotions where he was making a name for himself, and has not been used very well in WWE since joining despite being given some spotlight upon his re-debut on SmackDown. Hawkins is doing the best he can with the gimmick he has been given, which is commendable, but it feels like a dead-end street for him without much upside.
10 Hopeful: Cedric Alexander
One man’s loss is another man’s gain, which is something that Cedric Alexander is benefiting from at the moment. At the time the news of Rich Swann’s legal troubles broke, Swann was in line for another run in the title picture of the Cruiserweight Division, which was quickly removed as a result of the trouble. In order to provide Enzo Amore with a challenger, a tournament was devised to crown a number-one contender for the Cruiserweight Champion which ultimately went to Alexander.
In a series of matches on RAW, Alexander was able to showcase the skills that made him so popular on the independent circuit which has placed him into the top tier of the division. With Enzo Amore's recent release, it wouldn't be surprising to see Alexander take over the division and get a run with the Cruiserweight title in the near future.
9 Given Up: The Ascension
Another case of a team showing so much promise in NXT only to fizzle out when they arrive on the main roster, The Ascension were pushed heavily as a monster-tag team who dominated the NXT Tag Team Championship division with an impressive reign that was just shy of a year. With their matches being featured as squash matches in their favor, they were positioned as unbeatable before transferring to the main roster.
Unfortunately, things didn't work in the same way on the main roster as they were quickly buried creatively as “Road Warrior Rip-offs”, and were relegated to the lower-tier of the card very quickly. You can find The Ascension now involved in comedy skits with The Fashion Police, but unfortunately they are not the stars of those segments either which shows that their days are numbered in WWE.
8 Hopeful: Tye Dillinger
Go back in time and look at some of the reactions Tye Dillinger received during his time in NXT – the “Perfect 10” gimmick was incredibly popular with fans, and his catchphrases began to transfer on to the main roster crowd before he eventually debuted at the 2017 Royal Rumble. However, after his debut Dillinger began to be featured on television less and less to the point that he has almost disappeared. But why is there still hope for him? Just take a look at his most recent series of matches with AJ Styles and Jinder Mahal – he absolutely fantastic in the ring and still garners a great reaction from the crowd. While it has taken some time for Dolph Ziggler to get his spotlight back, I picture the same thing happening to Dillinger. We all just need to be patient and watch the magic happen.
7 Given Up: Dana Brooke
If Dana Brooke were to write a biography, the title would need to be “Too Much, Too Soon” because it essentially defines her career. After being hired by WWE with no previous wrestling experience, she was put into the WWE Performance Center, and was slowly transferred on to live events and television where she slowly began to improve in the ring. Unfortunately, WWE hotshotted her to the main roster and she debuted on RAW to little fanfare due to her lack of time on NXT television.
From there, Brooke was put directly into the spotlight alongside Charlotte as the Women’s Champion, and her lack of in-ring ability was put on full display for everyone. She may have shown some improvement over her first year on the main roster, but not enough to fully justify her being there, which has made her fall out of favor with management, as evidenced by her placement on the card. I don’t think there will be much surprise if Dana Brooke is included on the “spring cleaning” list this year.
6 Hopeful: Sonya Deville
Like I said when it came to Cedric Alexander, it can sometimes be beneficial to another wrestler when there's an injury on the roster because it means that a spot opens up for others. As sad as the current story of Paige’s potential career-ending injury is, there will now be an opening for the other members of The Absolution group to capitalize on. While there are reportedly big plans in the works for Mandy Rose in the eyes of management, this leaves Sonya Deville in a very interesting position. Will the former MMA fighter be able to showcase herself well enough to become a breakout star? Given the skills she showcased in NXT, I have a feeling that this turn of events could open up a big door for Deville, and that WWE management should be watching her closely.
5 Given Up: R-Truth
Do you ever wonder if some people end up on the WWE roster for so long that WWE management completely forgets they are employing them? My theory is that this happened with R-Truth some time ago, as he has rarely been featured on television even before he recently ended up on the injury list. One of the longest employed WWE wrestlers at this point, Truth has experienced a very roller coaster career as he has been given some spotlight only to be relegated again to being a comedy performer, and is one of the oldest members of the roster at 45 years old. Would you be surprised if he was released at some point this year? Not very much, as most people have not missed him since he has been injured. That is what’s up!
4 Hopeful: Rusev
If at first you don’t succeed, try again – this is exactly what has happened during Rusev’s main roster career with WWE. Upon debuting on the main roster in 2015, Rusev was pushed as a monster heel who dominated matches with his strength and power, but had absolutely zero personality. His lack of relatability and mic skills hurt his connection with the audience, and he eventually started to tumble down the card. While he was not in the direct spotlight, something interesting started to happen – his character started to show signs of life in the form of humor, which made him relevant to the audience again.
At this point, Rusev is involved in the catchy “Rusev Day” gimmick with Aiden English (another wrestler who has turned nothing in to something recently), which has breathed some new life into his character. If he can continue to ride this wave of popularity, he may have secured his job or longer than initially expected.
3 Given Up: Rich Swann
Sometimes WWE needs to throw up their hands and cut their losses with a performer who is just not cutting it, and other times there are extraneous circumstances that force their hand to do so. When it comes to Rich Swann, it is certainly the latter as there is no denying he is an excellent in ring performer, but his actions outside of the WWE have forced management’s hand to give up on him creatively. When news broke about Swann’s arrest for domestic violence and forced imprisonment of his ex-girlfriend, everyone was expecting WWE to release him instantly. However, it appears WWE is waiting on to the “innocent until proven guilty” policy and have only suspended Swann as per their policy, but a recent interview with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon made it very clear that if he is charged, they will wash their hands of him fully.
2 Hopeful: Mojo Rawley
I'm willing to say that I have egg on my face here – I have never been a supporter of Mojo Rawley as I do not feel that his in-ring performances have warranted any accolades, and considered him along the same caliber as other failed professional athletes that have entered professional wrestling, such as Tank Abbott or Steve McMichael. However, recent events on SmackDown during the United States Championship Tournament have made me realize that there's still hope for Rawley as a heel wrestler – his work with Bobby Roode recently showcased him in a light that his previous “hyped up” persona did not allow, and it was very refreshing.
There's no secret Vince enjoys having intimidating-looking wrestlers on his roster, and to couple that with the glimpses of great heel work that Rawley showed during his more recent matches, there is certainly some hope for his wrestling career that could be tapped in to.
1 Given Up: The Colons
Since rumors began to break in 2017 of Primo and Epico Colon were attempting to leave their WWE contracts to resume wrestling in Mexico, their relationship with WWE has never recovered. Only seldom appearing on WWE television since the rumors (their last appearance were as lumberjacks on a November episode of SmackDown), it appears that the Colons' time in WWE is coming to an end. Couple these rumors with the two failed tag team gimmicks of Los Matadores and The Shining Stars under their belts, and you realize that they have not given many reasons for WWE to want to hold on to them as performers. Hopefully all will pan out for them if they are able to end up back in Mexico, but if that fails they could always revisit sunny Puerto Rico!